Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries. Her upcoming new series, The Thorny Rose Mysteries, will be released Spring/Summer 2015.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genres written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
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I am a glutton for punishment. After establishing two mystery series, I decided to introduce a third one, in which I bring together Murphy Thornton, Joshua Thornton’s son, and Jessica Faraday, Mac Faraday’s daughter for their own series: The Thorny Rose Mysteries.
Should be simple enough. Not really.
My younger, hipper detectives, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, and Jessica Faraday live in Washington, DC. A Naval Academy graduate, Murphy is stationed at the Pentagon. A graduate of William and Mary, Jessica will be attending medical school at Georgetown.
This is a far cry from the resort town of Spencer, Maryland, and the small town of Chester, West Virginia. The hardest part in writing Kill and Run, and establishing the Thorny Rose Mysteries was not the setting so much. I got my start working for the federal government in Washington. Therefore, it wasn’t hard capturing the ambitious, political game-playing atmosphere of our Nation’s Capital.
Many of the characters and attitude portrayed in Kill and Run are compilations of “characters” I encountered during my days as a bureaucrat.
No, the most difficult part in writing Kill and Run was capturing some of the less polite aspects of living and working in the big city without offending the sensitivities of my current reading audience … and me.
For example, there is one particular character who was a source of much amusement on my cruise last month with romantic suspense author Cindy McDonald.
In Kill and Run, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton is assigned to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) as the military liaison. His immediate supervisor is Hillary Koch, who is nothing like Leroy Jethro Gibbs! A civilian, Hillary sends personnel reports on Murphy to his commanding officer, who is not on site.
Let’s put it this way—Murphy calls her “Crotch” for a reason!
Hillary Koch is the compilation of many different bosses I had throughout the years of working for the federal government in the Washington DC area. Hey, I’m a murder mystery writer and the pen is mightier than the sword!
As the character sprang to life in my mind and on the page, one problem arose—Hillary Koch has a filthy mouth. Yet, I could not get rid of Hillary because it truly was not realistic in this setting and with this character’s personality to have her speaking like the refined Archie Monday of the Mac Faraday Mysteries.
However, I write books that many people have regarded as clean of explicit sex, gruesome violence, and profanity. I’ve written numerous blog posts about how profanity is not the pathway to literary success.
So, in my effort to maintain my clean standard, I tried to write around Hillary’s filthy mouth by describing what she was saying instead of actually writing the words. When I sent the book to Cindy McDonald the week before we left on our cruise to the Bahamas, she had a good hearty laugh.
“I know you don’t want to say the words, Lauren,” Cindy said in an email, “but you have no choice. You’ve just got to write them.”
At one point on our vacation, we were doing our walking laps on the top deck of the ship and Cindy turned to me and said, “It is as hot as that place that people go to after they die when they’ve been really bad.” Then she whispered, “That’s hell, Lauren.”
I had no choice but to suck it up and cringe while typing out the word “hell.”
Readers are going to find that I do push the envelope just a little bit in the Thorny Rose Mysteries. There is a bit more sex and sexual innuendo (I still close the door!) and some light swearing (f-bombs are still not allowed!), and maybe some less polite murders. As a courtesy to my readers, these grittier mysteries will be designated with a logo to indicate my PG rating.
For those who are particularly curious, here is an excerpt from Kill and Run which features Hillary Koch’s big scene. I put on my big girl pants and took out some of the definitions, but not all.
As Lieutenant Wu had predicted, Hillary Koch blew her top when she learned from NCIS’s medical examiner that the bodies of five women were being transported to the navy’s morgue on orders of Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, who had taken the lead in the investigation of the multiple homicide.
During Murphy’s short time assigned to the staff, Hillary Koch had made no attempt to hide her dislike for the navy officer with snide remarks or agitated facial expressions—not the least of which included juvenile eye rolls—about or even directed right at his “precious” United States Navy. Every attempt she made to bait him into a debate went without so much as a nibble. After months of her lust for blood going without satisfaction, she was itching for battle. All she needed was an excuse.
The news from the medical examiner gave her that excuse.
As soon as Murphy stepped through the security door leading into the NCIS staff, Hillary initiated her ambush from the doorway of her office.
After letting loose with a long string of swear words, which included her favorite obscenity—the f-word, or variations and synonyms of it—with an occasional upping of the ante by preceding it with “mother”—inserted at every possible interjection, she arrived to the catalyst for her fit:
“Who the hell do you think you are, Lieutenant Thornton, taking on a multiple murder case involving five women—four who aren’t connected to the navy or marines?”
As if the cursing that had preceded her outburst was not enough to communicate her fury, she let loose with another stream of profanity.
Usually, when such battles broke out, the agents would scurry for cover, not wanting to further humiliate Hillary Koch’s latest victim with an audience to the annihilation. This time, the intensity and the one on the receiving end—the navy’s golden boy of the hour—made it just too juicy to ignore sneaking a peek.
Without uttering a word in his defense, Murphy sauntered across the outer office to where Hillary Koch stood with her hands on her expansive hips. Between her blazing temper and extensive use of oxygen in her fit, her doughy face was red. Her nostrils flared.
Wordlessly, he regarded her. While every agent, clerk, and assistant held his or her breath, he studied her unattractive face with his blue eyes. Finally, he responded in a voice so low and smooth that it melted in the mouth of every woman on the staff. “As flattered as I am that you want to have sex with me—it ain’t gonna happen.”
Bursting into laughter, Special Agent Susan Archer covered her mouth and ducked into her cubicle.
Hillary Koch’s eyes bugged.
“I mean,” Murphy continued with surprising calm, “a woman as well educated as yourself should know that the definition for the f-word is sexual intercourse. Clearly, you must know it very well since you’ve directed it and variations of it at me twenty-four times since I entered the office less than one minute ago.”
Her mouth dropped open.
The corners of his lips curling, Murphy winked at her. “I’m sure you heard of Sigmund Freud and his hypothesis about the human subconscious. The ‘Freudian slip.’ Obviously, you’ve gotten so hot and heavy for my body that you couldn’t stand it anymore and had to scream all the way across this office your intention to have sex with me.”
Hillary’s chest was heaving.
“Unfortunately for you,” he said, “one,—” he held up his left hand to show off his wedding band. “I’m married. Two,” The grin on his face dropped, “I’d rather spend an evening being water boarded by ISIS than touch you.”
Seemingly oblivious to the audience, Murphy moved in closer to Hillary Koch. “As far as the case goes, when you get a grip and are ready to discuss it like an adult, I’ll be in a meeting with Deputy Chief Hamilton and agents Archer and Latimore.”
Over his shoulder, Murphy gestured at Boris Hamilton and the two agents. “My office in five minutes. We have the murders of five women to solve.”
To Hillary Koch’s surprise, her deputy chief and the two agents didn’t wait. They immediately fell in behind Murphy.
“You have no authority!” she screamed.
“Oh yes, I do.” His back to her, Murphy grinned at her anger. “My CO is waiting for your call to report this conversation, at which time she’ll confirm her approval of my taking the lead in this case.” He paused at his office door to shoot another smile, framed by his deep dimples. If she liked him, she would have found it charming. Instead, she found it annoying. “I highly recommend you think through what you’re going to say before you call her. If you accuse her of having sex with her mother, she may make a special trip out here to the Pentagon to kick your butt, which I have no doubt that she can do.”
After they filed into the office, Boris Hamilton closed the door—shutting her out.
Her eyes wide, Hillary Koch turned from the closed office door to where her assistant Wendy stood motionless with fear at her desk. She clutched an armload of dripping paper towels to her bosom.
Hillary stormed into her office and slammed the door so hard, the picture of the President of the United States hanging on the wall outside dropped to the floor with a crash.
Kill and Run
Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.
Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.
The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.
In Kill and Run, best-selling mystery author Lauren Carr delights her fans by merging the son and daughter of the detectives from her two popular series for a new series—the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Fans were introduced to Murphy Thornton, the son of Joshua Thornton from Lovers in Crime Mysteries, and Jessica Faraday, the daughter of Mac Faraday from the Mac Faraday Mysteries, in the widely-acclaimed and best-selling Three Days to Forever, which was released in January 2015.
In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?